A Class Project for the People

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Atlas it's time for your bathAs an undergraduate history student, I wrote a lot of essays and exams meant only for my professor’s eyes. Despite the tremendous effort that went into crafting these works, they now exist only as PDFs on my personal computer where I secretly hope some future historian will find them and be fascinated by my analysis of the Chanak Affair or Red Clydeside. The whole concept of creating something useful was foreign to me.

While working with NiCHE this past year, I was fortunate enough to be involved with a group of students working towards a useful endeavour in the name of history. The group project involved the students of the UWO M.A. Public History program, who created three environmental history lesson plans based on the Ontario curriculum for grades 3, 4 and 6. Unlike my undergraduate essays, these students had to come up with innovative ways to engage elementary school students with history while also making sure the package was attractive for teachers.

The team put the finishing touches on the lessons a few weeks ago and they’re now in the hands of EcoKids, a program run by Earth Day Canada that focuses on environmental education. EcoKids will host and disseminate the lessons to its large subscription base of teachers from around the world.

Classes who use these lesson plans will be engaged with beautiful primary-source artwork, creative games and activities and even a lesson that brings rote learning back to show students what it was like to go to school in the past.

If you had have told me a few years ago that we could get a group of history students to create a project that would potentially be used by thousands of students around the world, I’m not sure I would have believed it. But here we are.

A special thanks to the M.A. students who worked so hard to bring this project together. I’d invite you to take a look at their blogs and if you like what you see, hire them!

Photo credit: “Atlas, it’s time for your bath” by woodley wonderworks. Creative Commons licensed.

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